environmental politics

What’s the Deal with Canada’s updated Environmental Legislation?


Photo by Ezra Jeffrey on Unsplash

You may have heard the news that last month the Canadian Federal Government overhauled a number of different pieces of legislation including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Navigable Waters Act, Fisheries Act and the National Energy Board Act. These pieces of legislation inform the way that government protects the environment so these changes are significant. What will this all mean and how will these changes affect how implementation of legislation? No need to go read the new acts! Save yourself some time and let the Executive Director of the Environmental Law Centre explain the implications of these changes.

Terra Informer, Caitlin Macnab, spoke with Jason Unger to discuss whether these changes spell out greater transparency, public participation and environmental protection. Listen on!

Download episode now. 

Download program log here. 


Environmentally Themed Music: The Moulettes


This week Terra Informer, Charlotte Thomasson, got in touch with UK rock band The Moulettes.  Formed in 2002, the band’s latest album, Preternatural, has taken on an environmental theme. Charlotte spoke with celloist Hannah Miller about the inspiration for Preternatural, as well as coral reefs, Bjork, and inspiring the masses to take on big issues!

Download episode now. 

Download program log here. 

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

Exploring The Relationship Between Environmental NGO’s and Corporations

lubicon - alex janvier

Lubicon, by Alex Janvier (1988)

Can corporations contribute positively to environmental action? Do we need modern-day Robin Hood’s funneling sponsorships toward good causes—or will corporate dollars always have a corrosive effect on activism? Artist Alex Janvier and forestry activist Tzeporah Berman weigh in.

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Election Special

The federal election is in full swing and politicians are criss-crossing the country trying to win your support. But one issue that has been conspicuously absent from the campaign is the environment. This week we invite each of the parties into our studios to outline their environmental platforms. We speak to Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party; Linda Duncan, the NDP’s environment critic; and Laurie Hawn, Conservative MP for Edmonton-Centre. (The Liberals declined our offer of an interview.) Then for a broader perspective on their policies we talk to Ed Whittingham, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute. He describes what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s platform and the key environmental issues to watch as voting day approaches.

Download this week’s show.

The Parliament Building in Ottawa. Photo by Bruce Irschick.

Smaller Parties

Terra Informa didn’t limit our interviews to the major parties. We also spoke to a number of Canada’s smaller political organizations.

Voting Resources

Strategic voting: Project Democracy, Catch 22

Vote with your heart: CBC’s Vote Compass

Vote swapping: Vote Pair, Vote Swap

Hydraulic Fracking Special

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of cracking a rock formation to enhance natural gas recovery. It has opened up huge gas reserves that would otherwise be inaccessible, but all that new energy comes at a price. The fluid that gets pumped underground includes a stew of toxic chemicals and people who live near fracking sites have complained of contaminated well water and clouds of noxious gasses settling over their properties. Today Terra Informa digs into the debate over this contentious technology.

Download this week’s show.

Flaming Tap Water

Contaminated tap water explodes into flame. Photo courtesy of Gasland.

Environmental News

In Ontario, the McGuinty Government has announced an immediate moratorium on all offshore wind power development in the province.

The Star, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Insider

Atlantis Resources Corporation has been chosen to test one of their underwater turbines in the Bay of Fundy. The device is among the world’s largest, and is able to produce a megawatt of power – enough energy for 1000 homes.

CBC ,Digby County Courier, The Chronicle Herald, Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE)

The Qubec provincial government continues to block requests for information to be made public concerning the Mercier waste lagoons, which were a site for highly toxic liquid petrochemical waste disposal in the 1960s and 70s

Montreal Gazette(1) , Montreal Gazette (2), McGill

Enbridge has offered a package worth hundreds of millions of dollars to first nations communities affected by a proposed pipeline from Alberta to the BC coast.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Chief Jackie Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation

Statoil faces 19 charges in relation to breaches of environmental regulations in 2008 and 2009. The court document, filed last week, alleges that water was diverted from lakes and rivers illegally for use in in situ bitumen extraction operations

Edmonton Journal, Reuters (1), Reuters (2)

Eco Babble: Hydraulic Fracturing aka Fracking

This week’s show is all about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  If when you hear that word, the only thing that comes to mind is Battlestar Galactica, you’re not alone.  Fortunately Andy Read and Rebecca Rooney are here to explain what it all means, with this week’s Eco Babble.

Green Screen Movie Review
This week Alex Hindle puts the documentary Gasland in the hot seat for a Green Screen Movie Review. Gasland takes a broad view of fracking and its legacy across america thus far, as recorded by young documentarian Josh Fox.  So let the review begin. Check out the trailer below.
Local Campaigns: BC Tap Water Alliance
Next up on Terra Informa is Local Campaigns, one of our reoccurring segments where we highlight under reported campaigns from communities across the country. Carrying on our theme for this week Myles Curry, talks to Will Koop of the BC tap water alliance about fracking in British Columbia.

Community Car Coops and the Real Cost of Cheap Food

Today we investigate the growing trend of community car shares. Members tell us how the systems work and why they love this increasingly popular way of getting around. Plus author and academic Michael Carolan fills us in on his new book, The Real Cost of Cheap Food, which examines the enormous environmental and social costs of the modern food industry.

Download this week’s show.

Market in Santo Tomás, Guatemala. Photo by auntjojo.

Environmental News

University of British Columbia study reveales a chronic under-reporting of fish catches from the Arctic Ocean in the period between 1950 and 2006.

Study Abstract, Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, CBC

The water flea has had its genome sequenced and published in the prestigious journal Science.  This represents the first crustacean genome to have been studied.

Study Abstract, CBC, Nature, Scientific America

Greenland wants to work with Nunavut to improve Arctic environmental protection


Environment Canada Fines Nova Scotia  Electronic Scrap Exporter

Environment Canada Release, News Wire, Recycling Today

Prairie artists oppose Oil Company Enbridge’s sponsorship of arts and music festival

Pipe-up Against Endbridge Release, Montreal Gazette, Prophagandhi News

Real Cost of Cheap Food

Michael Carolan is a sociologist who’s got some interesting things to say about how our food is made. Food certainly looks cheap at the supermarket, and the average north American pays far less for food relative to incomes than people did only a generation ago. But Michael Carolyn argues that this cheapness is a product of bad agriculture policies that are pushing the costs onto the environment, onto other countries, and onto future generations. Michael Carolyn is based at Colorado State University, and later in the year his new book will start hitting the shelves. It’s called The Real Cost of Cheap Food. Next he joins Terra Informa correspondent David Kaczan to explain its arguments.

Community Car Shares

Well, what if you could have a car whenever you wanted one, but you only had to pay for it when it was in use? What if your car could become a pickup truck when you needed to make a run to the lumber yard? And then a minivan when your friends wanted a ride to the hockey game? Well… then you’re probably a member of your local car share. With more on the growing trend, here’s Steve Andersen.

List of Canadian Car Shares
Vancouver Car Co-op
Edmonton Car Share

Three Walled Tailings Pond & Climate Justice Protest at Parliment

This week on the show, our fabulous new correspondent Jeremiah Bolstad takes an in depth look at the so called “three walled tailings pond” that was making headlines last week.  Steve Andersen brings us a story that received comparatively little coverage in the mainstream media: he speaks with one of the activists who staged a protest in Canada’s parliament building.

The tailings pond at CNRL's Horizon oilsands project near Fort McKay, Alta. The uncontained western edge of the pond can be seen at the bottom of the picture. (CBC)

News Headlines

Conservative dominated senate successfully kills NDP Bill C-311

(Globe & mail)

(Toronto Star)

Pulp mill in Corner Brook, Newfoundland proposes to test the burning of tires as an alternate fuel source.

Tire derived fuel public information from Kruger Inc.


Public outcry has lead communities in the Peace River to begin training to sample their own air quality.

Bucket Brigade Introduction


Climate Justice Protest at Parliment

Last week saw a lot of commotion in the Parliament buildings. In a surprise move, Conservative senators killed the Climate Change Accountability Act on Tuesday, November 16th, without even taking the time to debate it. But the ruckus that day wasn’t limited to the Senate chambers. Just before noon, down the hall in the Rotunda, a banner was hung from the second floor while six Climate Justice activists held a sit-in below. They wanted the government to take action on climate change and said that they weren’t going to leave until they spoke to the leaders of all the parties. To get the inside story, Steve Andersen talked to Tasha Peters, one of the activists who participated.

Climate Justice Ottawa Drops Banner in Parliament “If They Won’t Take Action on Climate Justice, We Will!” (Media Co-op.ca)

Three Walled Tailings Pond Near Fort Mackay

We’re always looking for new volunteers to help with the show.  Up next we have a piece from one of our newest correspondents Jeremiah Bolstad. Last week, the CBC reported on a three walled tailings pond on the lease of Canadian Natural Resource’s Horizon operation.  Jeremiah spoke with Davis Shermenta, a representative of Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board and Marlene Orr, a resident of nearby Fort McKay about the pond in question.

Alta. oilsands pond sludge oozes into bush (CBC News)

(CBC News)


Climate Change Politics and Environmental Security

Terra Informa March 8:Climate Change and Environmental Security (Listen/Download)

On this week’s show, David Kaczan and special guest correspondent Stephen Smiley investigate the emerging issue of environmental security. Environmental issues are sometimes thought to be of concern only to idealistic greenies, wilderness lovers and gentle peacecnicks. But in their latest quadrennial strategic report, the hawks at the US department of defence voiced their own serious concerns – that environmental issues posed a threat to the security of nations. The potential effects of global warming on water supplies, agricultural output and access to valuable resources such as oil, risk being a cause of future conflict. On our own back door, a melting Arctic is opening up vast quantities of untapped mineral and oil wealth. Not surprisingly, military powers in the region are beefing up their fire power. Whilst no one is suggesting that war is imminent, climate change is already affecting diplomatic relations. In other parts of the world, the dangers are real.

Dr. Robert Huebert (Professor of Political Science and Associate Director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.)

Greenpeace International recently appointed long-time environmental activist Tzeporah Berman to lead their Climate and Energy campaign (oilsandstruth.org article). Berman is known in BC for her work during the Clayoquat Sound protests of the early 90s, she co-founded ForestEthics and currently heads PowerUp Canada. She has worked with companies such as Home Depot, Dell, and Staples to improve their environmental records and has won numerous accolades for her work over the past 20 years. But not everyone who looks through her resume has such a glowing opinion of it. In fact, there are members of the environmental movement who are so concerned about her new position within Greenpeace that they’ve launched a campaign against her. Today Steve speaks to Macdonald Stainsby, one of the authors of the newly created website SaveGreenpeace.org.

Greenpeace Greenwash: Greenpeace International hires torchbearer Tzeporah Berman as chief climate campaigner (Vancouver Media Co-op)

Terra Informa March 8:Climate Change and Environmental Security (Listen/Download)